Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee

Title: Meet Cute Diary
Author: Emery Lee
Publication date: 2021

Date started: 25/04/2022
Date finished: 20/05/2022

First sentence: “MeetCuteDiary posted: It all started with an ice cream shop.”
Last sentence: “And really, I’m not entirely sure how to define the feeling I’m looking for, but it’s there, I know it is, and however long it takes me to figure it out, I know I’ll have the people I love supporting me, every step of the way.”
Favorite sentence: “You know, two percent milk? Like I’m two percent boy, but no one knows what the hell the other ninety-eight percent is.”

Summary (spoilers): Noah is the author of the Meet Cute Diary, a Tumblr blog where he writes short stories of trans people finding love through meet cutes. Even though it started as a nice way for him to live his fantasies, people found hope in believing his stories were true, so when a troll tries to prove they’re all fake, Noah panics. He also just moved from Florida to Colorado for the summer, and knows no one but his big brother in town. While looking for a job, he meets Drew, a handsome teenager who follows the Meet Cute Diary and soon realizes that Noah is the author. Drew proposes that they fake date to prove that the diary is (at least partly) true and it works: people fall in love with their story, and the trolling mostly stops. Noah has very preconceived ideas about love, and he’s ecstatic that his story with Drew started with a meet cute, and is progressing according to plan – indeed, soon enough, they make their dating official. And sure, Noah is getting increasingly annoyed at Drew, who often guilt trips him and plans dates that Noah dislikes, but Drew is handsome and charming, and what will his followers think if they break up? At the same time, Noah started working at a summer camp and is taking care of small kids with Devin, with whom he quickly becomes good friends. Devin is nonbinary, and by a strange turn of event, e is the person who inspired Noah to come out because they attended the same school – even though they didn’t know each other back then! When Noah realizes that Drew has been lying about his parents divorcing to guilt trip Noah into spending more time with him, they break up, and soon he realizes that he actually has feelings for Devin. Noah confesses, and Devin confirms that the feelings are mutual. They start dating, and agree to be in a long distance relationship when the summer ends. Noah also manages to save the Diary by letting people submit their real stories.

Opinion: Overall this book was quite disappointing. Despite the main character being trans, a lot of the trans experiences felt glossed over – for instance, at some point he gets his first binder, and we hear nothing about how it felt to try it on for the first time or how comfortable (or uncomfortable) it made him feel to wear in public. I did appreciate that, even though it’s mentioned several time that the main character isn’t passing, he mostly doesn’t encounter any transphobia, but it does feel a bit weird that every stranger automatically genders him correctly. The main character himself was quite annoying to me – self centred, obsessed by the ideal image of love he has, obtuse when it comes to relationships. The feelings of the main characters were not explored enough in general in my opinion, they always felt superficial and vague, and declarations of love always felt very sudden and out of place because the author hadn’t shown little by little how the feelings developed. So despite appreciating a cute romance book with a trans main character and a nonbinary asexual friend, I felt like it fell flat. [spoilers] I was also quite annoyed that 90% of the book was about a pretty toxic and obviously doomed to fail relationship, the last 10% not making up for it.

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